How to Deal With Conflicts Successfully: Find Ways to Say Yes


Do you frequently find yourself in a stalemate with your spouse when you need to make a decision? Does it seem impossible for you both to see eye-to-eye on things, simply because you both feel strongly about your views?

If you answered with a Yes to any of those questions, then you already know how such situations usually turn out. It either turns into a full-blown argument where one of you will ultimately have to admit defeat, or you both end up trying to do things the way you see fit, resulting in another messy argument. 

Now you’re probably wondering, ‘Does it really have to be a win-or-lose battle between us every single time?’

Well the answer is, no.

Neither of you has to lose each time you need to make a decision. There’s a way for both of you to win!

Doesn’t quite make sense?

Let me explain.

It’s all about accepting your partner’s influence.

Marriage can seem like a power struggle between two individuals who have their own, separate ways of thinking. And when these views clash, it can be difficult to find a way to resolve the situation peacefully.

But there actually is a way to peacefully handle matters, and it’s a method backed by research. Studies conducted by Drs. John and Julie Gottman and Neil Jacobson show that men who accepted their wives’ influence often end up resolving arguments better than those who don’t. And studies show that such relationships mend better and faster after a conflict. 

Still, doesn’t accepting your partner’s influence in your relationship mean that you’ll have to downplay your influence in your partnership? Not really. In fact, the more you accept your partner’s influence, the more influential you become. How so?

By showing that you value your partner’s feelings and perspectives, your partner will feel more inclined to listen to your thoughts. And when conflicts do arise, your partner will find it easier to accept your apology, making your marriage happier overall. Talk about a win-win situation!

Not only do you get your partner to take your thoughts and feelings into consideration, but you also will be able to minimize potentially disastrous conflicts in your marriage. Remember, when it comes to your relationship with your spouse, it’s not about who is right or wrong. It’s about doing everything you can to keep your marriage happy and strong.

Marriage is a Partnership

Keep in mind that marriage is a partnership, and the only way for such a partnership to succeed is by making sure that you both work hard to make it happen.

Sure, that may mean having to let go of what you want from time to time to make way for your partner’s ideas, but that’s what being a great team player means. It’s not compliance. It’s being open to your partner’s ideas and opinions and acknowledging their value. 

By doing what you can to find a middle ground for both of you when making decisions, you show your partner that they are important to you and that their opinions matter, even if you don’t always agree with them.

So how exactly can you put all these theories to practice the next time that you find yourself clashing on a certain matter?

Seek ways to compromise.

Again, remember that your goal is not to prove that you’re always right. Your goal is to win your partner’s heart and respect, which would in turn help you establish your influence in your relationship and make you both happier.

So here’s what you should work at doing when you disagree:

Identify how you commonly respond when dealing with conflict in your marriage. 

Do you respond with criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or stonewalling? These four are also termed the Four Horsemen, and they can cause huge harm to your marriage unless you work on addressing and changing the way you deal with difficult situations.

For example, a person who responds with criticism is quick to point fingers and blame their partner when things go wrong. This is not the same as making a complaint, however. A complaint can simply be an expression of disappointment over something. 

Here’s how a complaint would sound: “I was hurt that you said those unkind words to me in public. I thought we already agreed to be careful with what we say, especially in front of other people.”

A criticism, on the other hand, would sound this way: “You never think before you speak. You always hurt me with your words and you don’t even care how I would feel knowing that other people heard what you said.”


See the difference?

The second horseman, which is contempt, describes how people can react sarcastically when put in an emotionally-charged conversation. The third, which is defensiveness, describes how a person may try to defend his or her actions excessively to save face or to avoid giving an apology. And the last horseman is stonewalling, where a person who feels hurt can put up a wall of indifference and resort to silent treatment or giving their partner the cold shoulder. 

Why is it crucial for you to determine which of these Four Horsemen you’re mostly guilty of? Because it is only by identifying your usual response to conflict that you can successfully find ways to adopt a better, healthier, and more productive way of communicating with your spouse.

So be committed to accepting your partner’s influence in your relationship. Work hard to listen to your partner’s point of view with an open mind and heart. And stay positive! You can never do away with conflicts, but you can successfully resolve them, even if it’s just by saying, “Yes, I see your point.” 

True, accepting your partner’s influence is a challenge. But a happy marriage is always worth the effort, wouldn’t you agree?

And remember this: The more influence you accept, the more influential you’ll be. 


About the Author

I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of New Jersey. I specialize in helping women, couples, and teens learn how to live richer, more meaningful lives. While I take a warm, collaborative approach to therapy, I also like to keep it real; am relatively direct, and tend to (compassionately) call it as I see it.

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